Stanford GSE research finds strong evidence of mental health benefits in delaying kindergarten

October 07, 2015

By May Wong

The study co-authored by Professor Thomas Dee provides helpful information for parents deciding when their child should enroll in kindergarten.

According to the study co-authored by Stanford Graduate School of Education Professor Thomas Dee, children who started kindergarten a year later showed significantly lower levels of inattention and hyperactivity, which are jointly considered a key indicator of self regulation. The beneficial result was found to persist even at age 11.

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11,” Dee said, “and it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.”

Findings from the study, which Dee co-authored with Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Centre for Social Research, could help parents in the recurring debate over the pros and cons of a later school entry.

Though many children in developed countries now start their formal schooling at an older age, a growing body of empirical studies could neither conclusively point to improved test scores nor higher incomes from a delayed kindergarten entry, the study stated.

Dee and Sievertsen’s research, however, provides new evidence instead on mental health aspects that are predictors of educational outcomes.

In the psychology realm, the measure of inattention and hyperactivity – the mental health traits behind Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – effectively reflects the concept of self regulation. A higher level of self regulation, which describes a person’s ability to control impulses and modulate behavior in attaining goals, is commonly linked to student achievement.

...

CEPA Publications